NINER WFO e9 eMTB REVIEW
THE PLUSH PLOW
Words by Nic Hall & Drew Rohde
Photos by Caleb Ely
The new Niner WFO e9 was the first eMTB from the Colorado brand and was built to be a burly self-shuttling dream machine. Sporting mixed wheels, 180mm of bump-eating travel and a powerful Gen 4 Bosch drive unit, we were excited to see if the performance would make up for the polarizing looks of the WFO e9. Over the years we’ve ridden several of Niner’s bikes and we’re happy to see they’ve made some big improvements over the years in their pedal-bike range from aesthetics to geometry and performance. Rigs like the new Niner Rip 9 RDO have won us over with its capability and trail manners and we were excited to see if the new breath of life would carry over into Niner’s ebike line. Niner Bikes is a small brand committed to both the mountain bike community and to preserving access to trails for riders. We were able to do a Dissected feature video on their long travel, mullet eMTB a few months ago and have been riding it on our local test tracks ever since. After a summer and fall of riding, here are our thoughts on the WFO e9.
Niner’s WFO e9 borrows much of its heritage from the analog WFO, Niner’s aggressive enduro machine. The WFO e9 is built from 6061 aluminum, around a Bosch Gen 4 Performance CX drive system and 625Wh battery. On the bars is the Bosch Purion display unit, which is large and eats up space but offers techies much of the valuable information they may be looking for on the trail. It puts out 85nm of torque and accelerates to that max torque with a predictable curve to keep the tires from spinning out. Heat management has been prioritized and it shows with no appreciable heat limitations even under heavy load on hot days. Niner has finished off the WFO e9 with a full coverage downtube protector that also functions as the battery cover, bottom bracket armor and protects the internal cable routing.
Geometry on the Niner WFO e9 is on par with other bikes without being overly aggressive, making it capable without being a chore to handle. Our size large test bike in Low mode has a chainstay length of 430mm, a wheelbase that’s 1,271mm, a head tube angle of 63.5 degrees, a seat tube angle of 76 degrees, and a reach of 470mm.
High mode brings the head tube angle in 0.5 degrees to 64 and the bottom bracket height up 6mm. The larger diameter front wheel helps the slack front end track dead-on while the smaller rear wheels snaps to attention with little effort. We think Niner did a good job balancing stability and capability on DH trails without making it too slack and long for the climbs getting you to your favorite downhills.
Niner incorporated forged frame end links and dropouts and utilized Enduro Max bearings for longevity, which are nice features. Niner wanted to prioritize a build that was both durable and cost efficient with their 3-Star SRAM SX offering. Suspension is handled by a Rock Shox Yari RC 180mm fork and a Super Deluxe Coil select R trunnion mount rear shock. SRAM Guide RE brakes are spec’d for braking duties but are a bit under-gunned and problematic for such a heavy and capable 180mm ebike. The drivetrain is a SRAM SX eagle 12 speed setup, which is coupled with 165mm Praxis cranks. We’re huge fans of 165mm cranks and thank Niner for the good call there.
The cockpit is all RaceFace Aeffect R with a 35mm stem and 780mm bars. Dropper duties are handled by a KS Lev SI, which is 125mm on the medium and 150mm on the large, a bit of a bummer as we think a 180mm travel bike should have a 170mm dropper for navigating the steeps. Stan’s Flow rims are wrapped in Maxxis rubber with a Minion 29×2.5 front and DHF 27.5×2.8 rear. A solid combo that you can’t go wrong with and gave us no issues throughout the test.
The frame uses a tried and true Horst-Link suspension design that has a high degree of anti-squat and low amounts of braking force feedback. The suspension curve has been balanced with lower progressivity on the top and a larger ramp at the bottom. Due to the design of the four-bar linkage, a trunnion mount shock was utilized with bearings in the pivot that allow for free range of movement and durability and a supple feel on the trail.